Advani, Christian leaders for stopping forcible conversions, re-conversions

October 8th, 2008 - 9:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader L.K. Advani and a group of Christian leaders held discussions here Wednesday and called for a stop to forcible conversions and re-conversions.“Religious conversions or re-conversions, using coercive, fraudulent and allurement-based means, or through denigration of others’ faiths, are condemnable and must be stopped,” read a joint statement released after the two-hour meeting between Advani and prominent Archbishops of the country.

The meeting was held against the backdrop of communal clashes in Orissa since Aug 23 when Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) leader Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his aides were shot dead by unidentified gunmen at his Jalespata Ashram in Kandhamal district. The violence has left at least 35 dead and thousands homeless.

Subsequently, Orissa, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and other states have witnessed attacks on Christian places of worship.

The meeting at Advani’s residence was attended by BJP leaders Sushma Swaraj and Chandan Mitra, Sadhvi Bhagwati of the Paramartha Niketan and Sudheendra Kulkarni. Archbishop of Delhi Vincent Concessao, Archbishop of Orissa Raphael Cheenath and Rev. Dominic Emmanuel, spokesman of the Delhi Catholic Archdiocese, also participated in it.

Swaraj told IANS that the meeting was cordial and indicated more such meetings are expected soon.

Those in the meeting unanimously agreed to help restore peace, normalcy and a sense of security in strife-torn areas with the cooperation of the governments concerned and leaders of the Hindu and Christian communities.

They also sought a sustained and sincere dialogue between Hindu and Christian community leaders.

Swami Chidanand Saraswati of the Paramartha Niketan offered to rebuild one of the destroyed villages in Kandhamal district in Orissa in cooperation with the local church and the state government.

The participants sought for such confidence-building efforts to be replicated elsewhere in the country.

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